Jonathan Hardy
Aundrea Frahm said the kaleidoscope she built with the help of BYU engineering students probably weighed 450-500 pounds.

PROVO — The “We Revolve Ceaseless” exhibit at Brigham Young University's Museum of Art is a reflective exhibit about the role of time and each person's place in the universe, all portrayed through a 12-foot-long kaleidoscope.

Aundrea Frahm, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BYU, said her inspiration for the kaleidoscope came from a Buddhist text.

“It talked about how we as humans revolve ceaselessly in life,” Frahm said. “It talked about seasons and how life has seasons. That was the basic concept of the work.”

To execute the project, Frahm gathered a small team of sculpture, mechanical engineering and manufacturing engineering students at BYU to craft and assemble the kaleidoscope and center it in the exhibit.

Janalee Emmer, head of education and a curator for the BYU Museum of Art, said Frahm originally approached her about “We Revolve Ceaseless” a few years ago. At the time, Frahm was working as a part-time professor in art and art education at BYU.

“I thought it sounded really fascinating,” Emmer said. “(Since) it was such a complex process creating it … and it needed the help of a lot of different people — particularly a lot of people here on the BYU campus — it seemed appropriate that we display it here at the museum.”

The process of designing and constructing the centerpiece of the exhibit led Frahm to perform hands-on materials testing and research.

“I was in Metalmart wearing a hard hat,” Frahm said. “(I was) choosing what I was going to get and using CNC machines and laser cutters.”

Frahm said she utilized a variety of new skills to complete the project, but her interests have always been diverse. As an only child who grew up in Roy, Utah, she had a wide range of ambitions as a girl, although contemporary artist had never been on the list.

“I was wanting to be an Egyptologist or an astronaut or a dance instructor,” Frahm said. “I never thought I was going to be an artist.”

Frahm tested the limits of her imagination for "We Revolve Ceaseless" in the welding shop, adjusting the design and concept as needed. Although she originally planned on hanging the kaleidoscope from the ceiling, unforeseen logistical issues, such as the weight of the instrument, changed the conceptual blueprint. Instead, the kaleidoscope had to be placed on the floor of the exhibit; it's so heavy it normally needs eight men to carry it.

“I don't know officially how much (the kaleidoscope) weighs,” Frahm said, “but it’s probably about 450 to 500 pounds.”

Before entering the exhibit, viewers can familiarize themselves with microscopic images that represent the four seasons and then look for them as they appear in the kaleidoscope, which is lined with mirrors. Additionally, projections cycle around the room with images of a day-and-night cycle to an original score of music by Stephen Henderson. But rather than observe the exhibit from a distance, viewers are encouraged to physically interact with it.

“The viewer is allowed to put their whole head inside the kaleidoscope,” Frahm said. “Inside the kaleidoscope is video footage that begins and ends with a clock. It moves from images of water — one of the basic things for life — and then moves under a microscope seeing an egg. Then it moves into these seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter.”

Emmer added that the overall experience uses a unique combination of elements, including seasonal changes and the cyclical nature of time.

“It’s such a spectacle … and beautiful when you see it,” Emmer said. “It’s a very meditative, contemplative atmosphere.”

The universal nature of the exhibit also appeals to people of all ages.

“(I saw) this 80-year-old woman just mesmerized as she had her head inside (the kaleidoscope) and was just watching,” Frahm said. “And I got to see these little kids running to catch the projections.”

Frahm said that in creating art, she hopes to reach out to all people regardless of their personal backgrounds.

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“I love that the work isn’t just speaking to one audience,” Frahm said. “It’s not just talking to the contemporary art world, but instead it’s able to cross boundaries of age, race and gender. (It’s) able to communicate to that larger audience.”

If you go ...

What: Aundrea Frahm's 'We Revolve Ceaseless'

Where: The BYU Museum of Art, North Campus Drive, Provo

When: Open Monday and Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday-Wednesday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., exhibit ends April 14, 2018

How much: Free

Phone number: 801-422-1140

Web: moa.byu.edu